10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids

Planning a family trip to a big city like New York can be a daunting task for most parents, let alone for parents of kids with autism.
After several readers had sent in questions about their pending  New York vacations, we thought it might be helpful to list our top ten favorite NYC spots to visit for families with autism along with some much-needed tips.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids ellis

 Ellis Island

For more than sixty years, Ellis Island (open daily 9 am -4 pm ) was a federal immigration station, having closed its doors in 1954.
Nowadays, it is a museum aimed at teaching visitors about the American Immigration process. Though originally opened under the service of the National Park Service back in 1976 to the public, Ellis Island, is guarded by the Marine Patrol Unit of the United States Park Police since September 11th, 2001.

The museum is accessible by ferry boat and is on the same route as the Statue of Liberty.
Kids between the ages of 7 and 12 can become a Junior Ranger at Ellis Island by joining the destination’s program and completing various age appropriate assignments around the historic site.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Before your visit start the conversation with your kids about family heritage and roots and check out the interactive tour for your private history lesson
  • Be aware there is a security check before boarding the ferry that may include being touched by a wand or person.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids swearing hall

Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States by the people of France back in 1886. The only way to get there is via the Ellis Island-Ferry system from either the New Jersey side at Liberty State Park or in New York from Battery Park.
There are three options for visiting the Statue of Liberty that include an audio tour, a basic tour that allows guests access to the grounds only,  or the crown tour that gives visitors priority boarding with access up to the Statue’s Crown.

Ticket prices range from $9 for kids to $21  for adults. All the vessels are accessible by wheelchair. Park Ranger guided tours ( about 40 minutes) are included in the ticket price.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Prepare your kid before visiting by watching several live feed cameras including the live torch cam, crown cam, harbor cam and Lady Liberty Cam.
  • Be advised there can be a moderate amount of walking involved including climbing stairs.
  • Be aware there is a security check before boarding the ferry that may include being touched by a wand or person.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids lady

NYC Central Park

Created in 1858, Central Park is America’s largest urban park. It is open daily from 6:00 am until 1:00 and boasts multiple lakes, lawns, statues and even a whimsical castle. Visitors can walk around, exercise or bring a picnic basket and enjoy a light meal while lazing on the grass.Kids can borrow ‘ Discovery Kit’ backpacks filled with binoculars, field guides, a hand lens, and sketch paper while exploring the grounds.

Depending on the time of year various events like concerts and shows are held in the park.
Though many visitors walk around or ride a horse-drawn carriage within the park parameters, there are docent-led tours for those wishing to explore the area in more detail.

On weekends, the Central Park Conservancy staff and the NYC Audubon Society offer free birding lessons complete with free binoculars rental for families.Favorite spots to see with kids include:

  • Alice in Wonderland (filled with hiding places )
  • Hans Christian Andersen (kids love climbing it)
  • Balto (sled dog who saved Alaska’s children from a diphtheria epidemic by delivering medicine.)
  • The Conservatory Water made famous by the book Stuart Little to watch model boats
  • Belvedere Castle that looks and feels like a kid-sized castle
  • Strawberry Fields commonly known as the ‘Imagine’ spot serving as the memorial to John Lennon.
  • The 57- Horse Carousel playing old-fashioned calliope music.
  • The Delacorte Clock (named after philanthropist George T. Delacorte)
    that plays different chimes and nursery rhymes on the half hour.
  • The Swedish Cottage home to a marionette company.
  • Turtle Pond filled with New York City drinking water is the home to five species of turtles.
  • Built in 1984, Central Park Zoo it showcases animals from tropical, temperate, and polar zones around the world.
  • The  Park’s Wollman ice skating Rink turns to a Victorian Gardens Amusement Park in the summer months.
  • Autism Travel Tips
  • Make sure your kid wears closed-toe shoes since the terrain is uneven.
  • Most accessible playground out of the twenty-two scattered throughout the park is Robert Bendheim Playground designed to be accessible to children with disabilities
  • Plan and prepare your kid by watching a virtual tour
  • Download the app for self-guided tours.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids HCA

 Brooklyn Bridge

The bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States. Visitors can either walk, ride or bike across and then visit the  area known as DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Pass.)
The Bridge connects Brooklyn and Manhattan with a dedicated walkway and provides a spectacular backdrop for ‘selfies’. The route is a little over a mile, but there are no shaded places to sit and rest. Depending on your pace and the number of pedestrians, it can be accomplished from thirty minutes to an hour.

Autism Travel Tips

  • If your kid loves to ride a bike, then this is the place for you!
  • if you visit during the summer months, try to go early in the morning when it is less hot.
  • There are vendors along the route selling water and snacks.
  • Stop in the Dumbo area for a slice of original thin crusted New York City pizza.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids FLAG

Coney Island

The ‘touristy’ part of the island consists of theme park-like attractions, beach (with lifeguards) and seaside resort that are a favorite seasonal venue from Easter through Halloween.

The beach and boardwalk, filled during the summer weekends are open year round and are equipped with clean restrooms and shower facilities.
During the summer months, every Friday night there is a firework show on the beach at 9:30 PM. Travelers can get to Coney Island via car, bus or subway from Manhattan.
While visiting make sure to stop by one of the two Nathan’s hot dogs locations for a taste of an authentic new york city ‘dawg’.

Autism Travel tips

  • Bring closed shoes if your kid wishes to ride any of the amusement park rides before enjoying the beach.The theme park can be a bit of a money pit since unlike Disney here you pay for each ride separately and those can add up.
  • Prearrange a budget with your kid before going to eliminate potential meltdowns.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids coney island

Tenement Museum

Located at 97 Orchard Street, the museum provides valuable insight of the lives and work conditions of immigrants in the early years of the twentieth century.
The museum is small and maintained in close to original shape, so participation in a guided tour is the only option for visitors.
On select dates, the museum offers a coupled building tour and walking tour option.The museum is recommended for visitors eight years old and up.
Babies, infants and children under six are not permitted on building tours except for the “Meet Victoria Confino” presentation.
Visitors should allow an hour to explore each floor of the tour.The museum is open daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day and tickets prices range between 20-25$.

Autism Travel Tips

  • As mentioned before the museum is in an old building so visitors must be able to negotiate old fashioned narrow staircases.
  • Mentioned before the museum is in an old building so visitors must be able to negotiate old fashioned narrow staircases
  • If your kid is a history buff, then he or she will enjoy the visit
  • Take into account the tour is almost two hours long with no place to sit.
  • If your kid is temperature sensitive, avoid visiting in the summer since the place has no A/C.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids LIBRARY

NYC’s 9/11 Memorial

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum created to commemorate the fallen heroes are open daily from 9 AM to 8 PM.Ticket prices range from $15 for youth to $24 for adults with discounts for students and seniors. Active and retired military, museum members along with rescue workers and family members from 9/11 have free admission.
The museum offers free admission to the public on Tuesday evenings from 5-8PM.

From the 15-minute introductory video in the theater on the ground floor to the third floor with September 11, 2001, exhibit the museum is very instructive with over 23,000 images.
.It usually takes about two hours to visit the Memorial and Museum.

Visitors can book a guided tour, available in English or use an app ( Google play and Itunes) that is the official audio tour guide available in numerous languages, as well as American Sign Language.

Autism Travel Tips

  • The site is popular with tourists so book your tickets online and plan to arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds.
  • The museum is stroller friendly with a café inside.Use the printable museum guide for children to show the different sites to your kids
  • Tips for talking to your kids about the Nine Eleven Attacks.
  • Visiting the actual memorial is recommended for all ages even if you decide to skip the museum.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids MEMORIAL

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Known as the largest Art Museum in the United States ‘the Met’ is open daily. The museum features traveling exhibits and offers various free art classes for kids and adults. The cost for entrance ranges from $12 for students, $17 for seniors and $25 for adults.
Backpacks must be checked in and no food or drinks allowed; only plastic water bottles. Strollers and wheelchairs are permitted.
Pens and markers are prohibited from being used, although pencils are allowed.
Look into special passes or comprehensive city passes if you plan on visiting several New York City attractions during your vacation.
Check out the family guides to help plan your stay.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Depending on your kid’s ability you can expect a short or long visit.
  • Use our museum tips to help you make the most of your stay.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids TIMES SQUARE

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is the place to see many fossils and dioramas and learn biology, physics, astronomy, mineralogy and other scientific fields.
The museum is open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. Get familiar with the family programs before planning your visit.

Options for admittance depends on the type of tour visitors wish to take with prices ranging from $12.50 for children to $22 for adults. Specialized docent tours focusing on exhibits or sections of the museum are offered as well as tours in foreign languages.Popular tours for kids are Dino and Whales tours-each two hours long.

There is a food court on the lower level and a café on the fourth floor as well as a coat check to leave backpacks.Print out the interactive floor plan beforehand to assist you in planning your visit better.

Autism Travel Tips

  • Since this is a large museum, you might want to plan your trip around some of your kid’s favorite topics like dinosaurs or rocks instead of trying to see it all.
  • Call ahead and arrange a privately conducted docent tour if your kid isn’t able to participate in a group tour.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids GOBLINS

The Empire State Building

Want to see the city in all its glory?
Then The Empire State Building is the perfect spot to do so.
Starting with gorgeously detailed art deco ceilings and elevators, fascinating exhibits to the two observation decks the Empire State Building provides a comprehensive overview of the Big Apple.
The famous icon of the New York with a long-standing tradition of changing colors synchronized to music now displays over 16 million LED colored lights on a nightly basis.

Both the 86th floor open -observation deck and the glass-enclosed top deck provide 360-degree views of New York from a unique vantage point.For those interested in historical trivia -make sure you check out the manually operated Otis elevator that takes visitors from the 86th floor to the top observation deck.

Autism Travel Tips

  • The attraction is very autism-friendly.
  • Make sure you pre-purchase your tickets online.
  • If the lines to the observation elevators are too long for your kid to stand in ask for customer service to help to bypass the queue.

10 Favorite NYC Spots to Visit with Kids TRAIN STATION



Have you taken your kids with autism to New York City?
What spots were your family favorites?

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